During his lifetime Howard Hughes was one of the richest men in the world. He had influence in the corridors of power and many beautiful women were attracted to him. Yet despite all theses apparent assets he died a lonely and isolated man, who was despised by those who had dealings with him.

Why was he so unloved and so unhappy? Because Hughes never learned to enjoy people. It is an old saying that God gave us things to use and people to enjoy, but Howard Hughes got things the wrong way around.

King Solomon, as he reflected on his experiences, came to understand the value of relationships. His wealth and wisdom enabled him to enjoy a wide range of interests and activities, but he gradually realised that people are a basic source of true happiness. He expressed this discovery in the following words, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Solomon’s second principle for a satisfying life is again simple but profound: Enjoy people. The blessing of friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. Of course, other people can complicate our lives and cause us pain and hurt, but life without others would be unbearably desolate; in fact, a life without people is no life at all. The pop duo Simon and Garfunkel expressed this isolation poignantly in one of their songs in the 1960’s, “I am a rock, I am an island … and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” We were not made to live in isolation but to enjoy the company of others; a person cannot be an island and truly live.

But meaningful relationships do not just happen; indeed, most of the valuable things in life become a reality when we recognise their importance and give them priority. Deep friendships and rich relationships require time, effort and consistent nurture, but the investment is well worthwhile and adds a depth and beauty to life.

At another stage in his life Solomon wrote: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17), and the supreme example of such a friend is Jesus. I encourage you to assign priority to your relationships and, above all, that you will enjoy and experience the friendship of Jesus.